South African Police Minister Bheki Cele visited Mozambique recently and witnessed numerous stolen luxury vehicles with Gauteng registration numbers being driven around Maputo. "They do not even change the number plates there ... A lot of the stolen Gauteng cars are being driven freely in the streets of Maputo with no problem." (Lusa 3 Aug)
Cele's comment come as several Mozambicans ministers have admitted how deeply corrupted their own ministries are, which is probably not unrelated to upcoming elections and popular discontent against corruption. But blame is consistently given to middle level officials and high level corruption such as the secret debt is never mentioned.
Perhaps responding to the recent publication of a report claiming Frelimo profits from the heroin trade (http://bit.ly/Moz-heroin), Nyusi raised the issue of the drug trade in a speech in Tete on 2 August.
(Lusa, 2 Aug) But he carefully raised the matter in Tete, where the drug trade is less important, and not where it is centred in Nampula and Cabo Delgado.
"Corruption is most serious" in the road construction sector, involving both contractors and those in the government giving tenders, said Public Works Minister Joao Machatine, speaking to construction companies in Nampula 20 July. "The ANE (National Roads Administration, Administracao Nacional de Estradas) is notorious for corruption and it is known that colleagues here benefit from construction projects." And he pointed to the lack of transparency in awarding contracts. (O Pais 23 July)
Foreign companies and Labour Ministry staff are both acting corruptly, admitted Labour Minister Vitoria Diogo. Applications for foreign workers are kept by ministry staff in their desks, for up to two month, until the companies offer to pay a bribe, she said. On the other side, the law sets quotas for foreign workers, and when foreign companies want to bring in more foreigners they make minor changes in the company name to pretend to be a different company, and then pay ministry staff to look the other way.
Meanwhile some companies do not make social security payments for foreign workers, and 372 firms have been denied the right to hire foreign staff because of past failure to pay social security, Diogo said. (O Pais 17 July)
Meanwhile the Mozambican Workers Organisation (OTM, trades union federation) complained about foreign companies hiring foreign workers when Mozambicans with qualifications were available. But Pedro Baltazar, vice president for labour and social action of the employers association, the Confederation of Mozambican Economic Associations (CTA), said excessive bureaucracy in hiring foreign labour opens the way to corrupt practices and prevented qualified staff from working in the country. (Lusa 3 Aug). The Maputo city court fined the construction company 7 Mares $17,000 for employing a foreigner to direct a project for Engen in Maputo's Zimpeto neighborhood, after the employee's work permit expired on 6 January, 2016. (Zitamar 7 Aug)
Corruption has cost the government $4 mn in the first half of 2018 alone, according to Cristovao Mondlane, spokesman for the Central Office for Combating Corruption. Among the government officials accused of corruption this year are seven mayors, five district administrators, six CEOs, six permanent secretaries, and 15 heads of state services. Mostly, corruption at this level takes the form of ghost companies created by officials that win tenders from the offices the officials direct. (Zitamar 7 Aug)
Mondlane also said his office is still investigating the $900,000 bribe construction company Odebrecht admitted paying to the Armando Guebuza administration to obtain favourable terms for the construction of Nacala airport. The Brazilian part was being financed by Brazil's state-owned development bank, BNDES - which suffered its first default over the Nacala Airport project.
The Brazilian authorities are also investigating the terms of the contract to build the Moamba Major dam, under suspicion that Andrade Gutierrez was forced to form a joint venture with the Mozambican partner company, Estradas do Zambeze. Estradas do Zambeze shareholders include prominent individuals from Frelimo including former general Raimundo Pachinuapa, Guebuza relative Tobias Dai, and Fernando Sumbana. Work on the dam has stopped because the Mozambican government was not disbursing its part of the funds. (Zitamar 7 Aug)
"We know there are citizens who bribe municipal officials to obtain a DUAT [land title] and then when they do not succeed, they go on social media to say they have been cheated," commented Attorney General Beatriz Buchili. "but this ignores that act that both citizen and official are corrupt." Buchili admitted that the offices to combat corruption (CCCC) are "weak" and have a reputation for being corrupt themselves. (O Pais 17 July)
217 ivory elephant tusks have disappeared from the warehouse of the Cabo Delgado Forestry and Wildlife Services. This is the same warehouse from which 80 tusks were taken last year. (Radio Mocambique, 2 Aug)
104 civil servants were dismissed last year and 205 demoted, for corruption, leaving their job or laziness. These were part of 2255 disciplinary processes, according to Carmelita Namashulua, Minister of State Administration and the Public Service. (O Pais 9 Aug)
Senior Frelimo stripping Tete timber
Criminal gangs linked to senior Frelimo figures and Chinese companies are ignoring the law and stripping Tete province of high value timber, according to an excellent investigative article by Raul Senda in Savana (20 July). All cutting and collecting of three key species - Nkula, Pau Ferro and Mondzo - was banned and export of three other species - Chanfuta, Umbila and Jambire - was banned on 29 March by Land, Envirroment and Rural Development Minister Celso Correia.
But Senda found this was being ignored in Tete. The warehouse of Ching Chong Madeira in the village Cantina de Oliveira, Maravia, is just 500 metres for the natural resources control post which all lorries pass, but on 11 July Senda found banned hardwoods cut so recently that they were still oozing sap.
He notes that timber companies have very high level links. For example, Tete forestry concessions are held by Frelimo's veterans association (AssociacÌ§aÌƒo dos Combatentes da Luta Armada de LibertacÌ§aÌƒo Nacional, ACLLN) and the Ministry of Defence company, Monte Binga.
Bribes to public servants and law enforcement have been the key to hiding the scheme. The going bribery rate is apparently 1,000 meticais ($17) per log.
In a linked investigation, Zitamar (20 July) pointed to a trick used by provincial officials to allow cutting of Nkula, one of the rarest trees.
Zitamar found that last year the provincial government had allowed nine Chinese companies to collect already cut but abandoned Nkula - but with little check so that cutting continued. Indeed, Zitamar found cutting of Nkula in Macanga continuing on 9 July.
Zitamar points to the lack of prosecutions in Tete. Indeed, it appears that the only prosecution was done by Malawi when Mozambican and Chinese loggers strayed across the border - and there was a campaign in Mozambique to free the men.
When questioned by Savana and Zitamar, provincial officials simply denied that illegal logging was taking place.